Do I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder?

Jun 4, 20245 min
Feelings and Signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Therapyclub

In the fast-paced rhythm of modern life, moments of stress and unease can easily creep in. For some, these feelings evolve into a more profound experience known as anxiety. More often than not, anxiety is visible in subtle signs  and may go unnoticed. Sometimes, it also serves as a natural alarm system that helps us focus on the task at hand and quickly come up with solutions to tackle it. In this article, we will be  highlighting these signs, expanding on the feelings associated with anxiety and what you can do when you catch yourself having these experiences.

Recognising the Signs of Anxiety

Recognizing the signs isn't about self-diagnosing but understanding when your mind might need some extra care.

Here are some key indicators:

1)  Restlessness and Irritability: If you find yourself in a perpetual state of restlessness and a grumpy mood, it might be more than just a passing phase.

2)  Brain fog and fatigue: When your brain feels like it's running on empty and focusing is an uphill battle, anxiety could be the silent orchestrator.

3)  Sleep Struggles: The nightly skirmish with sleep? That could be anxiety's doing.

4) Physical Signs: There may also be physical signs and symptoms, like headaches, tense muscles, or nausea. These subtle physical symptoms frequently accompany emotional turmoil, providing a complete picture of the impact anxiety can have on both mind and body. 

5) Additionally, avoidance of certain situations or activities, even those once enjoyable, can signify the grip of anxiety.

Understanding anxiety cannot be a one-size-fits all approach. It can show up differently for different people. It can take the form of constantly feeling tense or on edge, awaiting the worst possible outcome, or enduring a constant sense of doom. Sometimes, it's not about what you feel but what you don't; numbness or a sense of detachment from reality are all the more subtle indicators.

Anxiety can lead to irrational fears or a fear of judgement. Dealing with internal battles might make social situations daunting, leading to self-isolation.

Think of anxiety as a spectrum, as illustrated in the image. It is normal to encounter times in the yellow or orange zones, even if you mostly exist in the green. Anxiety is a shared human condition, and even when it escalates to the extreme, it is a diagnosable disorder that demands support and acknowledgment. 

Stages of Anxiety and The Mental Health Spectrum -Therapyclub
Stages of Anxiety and The Mental Health Spectrum -Therapyclub

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): When Everyday Worries Take Center Stage

Enter Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), or as some call it, the marathon runner of anxiety. It's not about a fleeting concern; it's about an uninvited companion setting up camp in your mind. GAD brings an endless stream of worries, from the likes of your job and health to the minor ones like household chores. It's like having a mental checklist that never gets marked off.

It's not just about the thoughts; it's about their impact on your daily life. If your worrying becomes an unstoppable force wreaking havoc on school, work, or your social life, it's time to take notice. Feeling constantly on edge, irritable, or perpetually fatigued are signs that anxiety might be playing a larger role than you thought.

Signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Although the symptoms of anxiety are not hard to observe, the same cannot be said for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Here are some symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

  1. Mental preoccupation: A reduction in the impact of other important life events, due to the mind being preoccupied with constant worrying.
  2. Hyperactive mind: Finding yourself trapped in overthinking worst-case scenarios and pondering the eventual death of your family and friends.
  3. Physical signs: The above factors translate into physical manifestations like muscle tension, fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and insomnia. 
  4. Unrelenting distress: A feeling of impending doom that causes worry over personal safety and the safety of loved ones, even during normal everyday situations, creates a constant sense of unease. 

The Spectrum of Anxiety Disorders: Beyond Generalized Anxiety Disorder

While GAD takes the spotlight, anxiety isn't a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. It comes in various forms, each with its own nuances. Some examples of the various anxiety disorders-

  • Panic disorder, marked by recurring panic attacks, and phobias, which are irrational fears of specific things, add complexity to the diagnosis of anxiety.
  • Agoraphobia, the fear of leaving home or being in crowds, and 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), where intrusive thoughts join hands with obsessive behaviors.

Recognising the unique struggles related to anxiety paves the way for personalised solutions and coping strategies. 

The Role of Self-Reflection

It's important to encourage looking inward for each of us to catch those signs of anxiety in ourselves. Taking a breather to think about our thoughts, feelings, and how we react to stuff helps us understand our feelings of anxiety. This self-awareness is like having a weapon to spot and deal with signs of anxiety before they get out of hand.

When we reflect on ourselves, it's not just about catching those signs—it's also about figuring out the things that set off our anxiety. Knowing these things is like holding the remote control over our mental well-being, giving us the power to steer the ship.

Taking Steps Towards Wellness

Awareness of these symptoms of anxiety is an important first step, but the road to psychological well-being goes beyond recognition. There are numerous coping mechanisms, such as practicing mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, and participating in activities that bring happiness and ease.

Moreover, seeking professional help is a vital step in managing anxiety. Therapists and mental health professionals offer guidance, support, and tools for individuals to navigate the challenges posed by anxiety. Seeking help is NOT a sign of weakness but one of strength.

But if you’re seeking a temporary solution, the 3-3-3 Rule for tackling anxiety is a trick to keeping your cool in the midst of chaos. Focus on three things you can see around you. Not anything specific; just soak in the world visually. It helps you hit pause on everything that’s happening. Then, dial into three things you can hear. Could be a clock ticking, keys clacking, or even leaves rustling if you're outdoors. Let those sounds pull you into the now. Lastly, grab onto three things you can touch or move—they could be anything within arm's reach. This is a very helpful technique that snaps you back into reality. It's a quick and handy way to ground yourself when anxiety starts kicking in.

Embracing Awareness and Understanding

Understanding anxiety goes beyond recognizing textbook symptoms; it's about diving into our own feelings. When we connect with those subtle signs, it's like unlocking a door to our inner selves. This journey of self-discovery isn't a solo mission—it's an opportunity to embrace support and open up conversations. So, let's break down the walls around mental health, starting with acknowledging our own experiences and fostering a collective effort to make these discussions feel real and relatable. 

Here we covered how anxiety can be beneficial to your advantage?

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Suvrita
Psychologist | Mental Health | Gender & Sexuality